Convection in Cream and Liqueur

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We are used to associating convection with differences in temperature, but what’s actually necessary for a Rayleigh-Taylor-type instability is a density variation (and a gravitational field). The solutal convection seen above when mixing liqueur with cream is caused by the interaction of density and surface tension. When the alcohol of the liqueur mixes with the cream, it forms a less dense alcohol-cream that tries to rise to the surface. The alcohol also breaks the surface tension of the cream, causing it to contract and open cells where the alcohol surfaces. As the alcohol evaporates, the alcohol-cream mixture gets denser and sinks back down where it can pick up more alcohol and start the process again. (via jshoer and io9)

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